As the partial government shutdown drags on, MBA has been active in ensuring that interruptions in critical federal services needed to serve homebuyers, homeowners and furloughed workers are limited. As The Washington Post reported in a front-page story, we were instrumental in advocating for the resumption of the IRS IVES (Income Verification Express Service) system for processing Form 4506-T tax transcript requests. Why did we do this? We wanted to avoid having home purchase transactions delayed or canceled, and we wanted borrowers closing on refinance loans to take advantage of today’s lower interest rates to close their loans before their interest rate lock-ins expired.
We applaud the administration in its decision to resume processing these requests for tax return transcripts. Lenders can now close loans with the confidence that the income information provided by borrowers is consistent with the tax returns they filed with the IRS. This means that would-be fraudsters will continue to be thwarted and that the vast majority of borrowers who truthfully disclose their incomes to mortgage lenders will not be penalized by the inability of the government to confirm their incomes.
MBA continually advocates on behalf of borrowers and homeowners. We did the same in December when we successfully advocated for FEMA to reverse its decision to halt the issuance of new and renewal NFIP flood insurance policies. And more recently, when we saw that the guidance issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac relating to mortgage forbearance for furloughed workers was incomplete, we urged the GSEs to make it clear that mortgage servicers do not have to report borrowers’ payment information to the credit bureaus if the servicer makes accommodations to those affected by the shutdown.
Had we not done this, borrowers’ credit scores would be adversely affected if they take advantage of forbearance offered by servicers. Both Fannie and Freddie issued guidance in response to our request Friday evening, enabling servicers to accommodate their borrowers’ requests without an unfair degradation in consumers’ credit scores.
While I suppose it is unavoidable that in today’s divided political climate, some will question the motives of groups like MBA when we take action on behalf of consumers, we are proud to have achieved these positive results for consumers, and we will continue to advocate for sensible steps to keep home financing broadly available to all qualified Americans. The same issue of The Washington Post included a column by Ken Harney that showed that while some “mortgage victims” of the shutdown “simply get inconvenienced, others face personal disasters.”
Housing and mortgage finance are absolutely central to our economy and to Americans’ prosperity. We will continue to advocate on behalf of current and prospective homeowners.